CS 306 Synthesis of Ethics and Law for the Computing Professional, 3 units
Department of Computer Science
Course Description -- Spring, 2022

Sec. -002 Tue/Thu  9-10:15 a.m.  A&D L008  Maddox (Class Dates: 1/25-5/5; Exam 5/12, 7:30 AM)

Sec. -003 Tue/Thu  10:30-11:45 a.m.  A&D L008  Maddox (Class Dates: 1/25-5/5; Exam: 5/17, 10:30)

Sec. -004 Mon/Wed  1:30-2:45 p.m.  A&D 2026   Maddox  (Class Dates: 1/24-12/1); Exam: 5/11, 1:30)

Sec. -005 Mon/Wed  Noon-1:15 p.m.  A&D 2026   Maddox (Class Dates: 1/24-5/4); Exam: 5/16, 10:30)

Sec. -006 Tue/Thu  9-10:15 a.m.  East 122 Otten (Class Dates: 1/25-5/5; Exam: 5/12, 7:30 AM)

Sec. -007 Tue/Thu  10:30-11:45 a.m.  East 122  Otten  (Class Dates: 1/24-5/5; Exam: 5/17, 10:30)

Sec. DL2  Wed  1:30-4:15 p.m.    ONLINE    Geldon (Class dates: 1/26-5/4; Exam: TBA)


Tamara A. Maddox (Sections 2-5)   Email: tmaddox@gmu.edu  Phone: (703) 993-1525

   Office: Engineering Building, Room 5347    Office Hours: Thursdays 12-1 PM and by appt.

John E. Otten (Sections 6-7)    Email: jotten2@gmu.edu    Phone: (703) 993-1669

     Office: Engineering Building, Room 5335    Office Hours: Wednesdays 12-1 PM and by appt.

Fred Geldon (Section DL2)   Email: fgeldon@gmu.edu

    Office Hours: after class and/or by appt.

Online Class Syllabus: http://cs.gmu.edu/syllabus/syllabi-Spring22/CS_306All.html
Blackboard Link: http://mymasonportal.gmu.edu

GTA'sAndres Rosero, George Guay, Hawa Wardere

            Sec. -002 (T/R 9-10:30 AM): Bill Bock 
            Sec. -003 (T/R, 10:30-11:45 AM): Iza Lazaneo, Leela Yaddanapudi
            Sec. -004 (M/W 1:30-2:45 PM): Nick Vayer
            Sec. -005 (M/W, Noon-1:15 PM):  Christine Nguyen, Leeza Zaviolova
            Sec. -006 (T/R, 9-10:15 AM): Afnan Hamim
            Sec. -007 (T/R 10:30-11:45 AM): Deepak Rayapati, Ritika Raju
            Sec. DL2 ONLINE (Wed, 1:30-4:15 PM): Michael Schneider, Qizra Sameen

Course Prerequisites: CS 105/110, COMM 100/101, ENGH 302; Completion of at least 60 credit hours

Req'd Textbook: Ethics and Law for the Computing Professional: Understanding the Legal Process and How Law and Ethics Impact Issues in Technology (Geldon & Maddox), Cognella, 2022. To order, go to: gmu.bncollege.com

Course Description: This course is intended to help students become effective professionals in the field of computer science by examining many of the challenging legal and ethical issues surrounding computer technology and its use, and building a foundation for dealing with those challenges. Students will examine the philosophical bases for ethical decision-making and how to apply them to issues raised by computers and technology. Specific topics covered in CS 105/110, such as intellectual property concerns, will be addressed by this course in a more intensive manner. Emerging legal and ethical issues involved in the computer profession and e-commerce will also be addressed.

Why you should care: This is a course about law, ethics, and big ideas.  We will spend much of our time reading, discussing, and writing about actual legal cases dealing with constitutional and computer-related issues.  It is a chance for you to understand how the law really works, and how it may apply to your future career in computing.  It is also an opportunity to consider the ethics of many computer-related issues that may actually affect you.  We hope to provide you with new insights, and we may challenge what you think you know!  We expect that you will bring us new insights as well.  YOU are the most important component of this class, so please come prepared to think, discuss, and argue!  At the same time, remember to treat others respectfully, even if you disagree with their positions.

Course Outcomes:

  1. Recognize professional responsibilities and make informed judgments in computing practice based on legal and ethical principles.
  2. Be able to connect issues of computer technology to wider community and societal concerns using perspectives of law, ethics and computer science.
  3. Be able to communicate effectively in oral form.
  4. Be able to communicate effectively in written form.
  5. Be able to work with a partner and/or group to satisfy a complex task.
  6. Be able to apply critical thinking skills to evaluate the quality, credibility and limitations of an argument or a solution using appropriate evidence or resources.
Technology Requirements:  Spring, 2022 CS 306 classes are being offered in-person except for DL2, which will be offered synchronously over Zoom. Unless covid-19 requires a move to remote learning, all other sections will meet solely in person.  However, there will be certain asynchronous requirements and many materials and assignments will require BB access to complete. All students will need to be prepared for the following technology requirements to successfully complete this class:

Writing Intensive Component: CS 306 is a Writing Intensive (WI) Course that, together with CS 321, meets the GMU WI Requirements for the BS CS and BS ACS programs. Accordingly, each student in CS 306 is required to write a minimum of 1750 individual words, which will be graded and returned to the student with feedback. This requirement will be fulfilled by a series of short essays analyzing legal and ethical issues, most of which may be revised and resubmitted for an improved grade after receiving feedback.  Each of the first three essays must meet minimum wordcount requirements and earn a final grade of C or better in order to receive a C or better in the course. Students will also be writing in-class essays for exams.  In addition, students will work with partners to research and write materials in preparation for their Mock Trials. 

Grading Policy:
    1. Class Participation (incl. short assignments and discussion boards) (15%)
    2. Short quizzes on assigned reading and recent lecture material (20%)
    3. Essay "Quest"  on specific cases or course topics (5%)
    4. Essays on topics of law/ethics (15%)
    5. Mock Trial Group Project and Presentation (25% total)
    6. Final Exam (20%)

Late Work:  You are expected to submit all work by the due date.  Late work may be accepted at the discretion of the instructor, but  will be subject to a late penalty, typically 5-10% per day (incl. weekends).  The group project is divided into five parts, and no late work will be accepted after the due date for the next sequential part.  NO late work of any kind will be accepted for credit after Saturday, May 7, 2022.  

  You should assume ALL normally scheduled classes are synchronous and require attendance unless specifically told otherwise.  Certain class sessions will be asynchronous (not requiring class attendance), but these will be clearly announced in advance.  Students should plan to attend ALL synchronous classes (either in person or by logging in through Zoom), prepared to participate and ready to discuss the readings and/or recorded lecture assignments for that day.  Failure to do so will be reflected in your class participation grade.  (Students unable to attend class due to emergency or covid-19 quarantine should contact their instructor immediately to make special arrangements for any missed classes.)  Group project grading may include a confidential review of participating group members by each student, and individual grades may be adjusted later in the semester if deemed appropriate based on repeated lack of participation as evidenced by either instructor observation or report by fellow group members. If an assignment requires inclusion of the Class Honor Code Pledge, it may be found here.

Course Recordings: Certain lecture recordings will be made available through Blackboard.  Certain portions of DL2 Zoom class sessions may also be video recorded and made available for your convenience.  Please note that (a) recordings will only be accessible to students taking the course; and (b) any students with privacy concerns should raise them with their instructor.  Please note also that instructor lectures and course materials, whether written text, audio recordings, or video recordings, are protected by US Copyright law and also by GMU policy.  Instructors are the sole owners of the copyright on course materials they create.  You may NOT copy, distribute, upload, post, or display CS 306 lectures or course materials, or allow others to do so, without the creating instructor's explicit written consent.  

Honor Code:
All exams and certain assignments, such as the series of analysis essays, are to be individual efforts. Certain homework and portions of group or team assignments may require individual effort as well. Failure to give proper credit by using quotes and cites constitutes plagiarism. See here for an explanation of quotes and cites for this class. If you have any questions about proper citation method, contact your instructor. Plagiarism is governed by the GMU Honor Code and will not be tolerated. Suspected honor code violations will be referred to the Honor Committee.

Special Accommodations:
If you are a student with a disability, please see your instructor and contact the Office of Disability Services (ORS) at (703) 993-2474. All academic accommodations must be arranged through the ODS: http://ods.gmu.edu. Should any accommodations involve a request for time extensions, please make sure that you contact your instructor regarding such extensions well in advance of any specific due date, since some extensions may not be possible without advance notice.

Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS):  Contact CAPS at (703) 993-2380 or http://caps.gmu.edu.
Writing Center: Robinson Hall, Room A114, (703) 993-1200 or http://writingcenter.gmu.edu.

Student privacy rights under FERPA: https://registrar.gmu.edu/ferpa
General Education:
This course is approved to satisfy the GMU Synthesis Core (gen. ed.) requirement.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: None of the information presented in this course should be considered specific legal advice. Each situation is unique and requires individual attention. Students with individual legal concerns should not rely on information obtained in this course in making any legal decisions. Should you have a problem or concern requiring legal attention, you should seek specific advice from an attorney of your choosing.